As a nutritionist, I know that there are many benefits to breastfeeding – from bonding with baby to the nutrients in breast milk. When I was pregnant with Ben I read a lot about breastfeeding so I would be well equipped to breastfeed when the time came time.
But like many women, I had all of the common fears; I wasn’t sure if I was going to produce enough milk, I wasn’t sure if my baby would latch, and I was nervous about the pain and bloody nipples other women described. Nearing the end of my pregnancy my breasts were feeling very full, and I had some white crust around my nipples which was a sign that Colostrum was coming in, but the anxieties never went away.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding:
– Boosts immunity and reduces risk of infection
– Aids in brain health & healthy development
– Easier to digest than formula
– Decreases the risk of allergies and lactose intolerance
And then along came Baby Ben…
Ben was born with Jaundice, which is common in newborns but can make for a very tired and inactive baby. From day one, Ben was having difficulty latching and didn’t have enough energy for long feedings. To make matters worse, nurses were unsupportive and told me my nipples weren’t the right size or shape. Who knew?… Nipple size matters! Or does it?
Tip: If your baby is having issues latching, try Medela Nipple Shields. They help baby latch better, helping baby get more milk from the breast.
Through my pregnancy I had purchased so many gadgets, but one thing I didn’t prepare myself with was a breast pump. While I was in the hospital I quickly realized how badly I was going to need a breast pump and bought the Medela Freestyle Double Electric Breast Pump from the hospital gift shop.
The day after birthing, we took a mandatory breastfeeding class at the hospital. My milk had not come in yet, and I was the only mom in the room without a properly latched baby. To this day, that was one of my toughest experiences as a Mom. I kept thinking, “wow, I can’t even feed my own child?” Despite everything I knew about anatomy and physiology, and everything I had prepared for, my emotions got the best of me. I left the class that day in tears feeling defeated. I shortly realized how common it is to have initial breastfeeding woes, and how many resources are available to new mom’s to help them overcome this. If you are having issues with milk supply, learn more about how to increase your milk supply here.
Over the next few days I met with several lactation consultants to try to get Ben to latch. I moved to tube feeding in attempt to stimulate milk production. Tube feeding was awful. Ben fed so often it was difficult to put the apparatus together each time, the tape kept falling off, and it felt unnatural.
I started pumping using my Medela Freestyle breast pump while still trying to keep Ben on the breast as much as I could so he could familiarize himself with the motions. Eventually on day five my milk came in. I feel that my Medela pump had a lot to do with this as it was stimulating my nipples enough to make my body produce Colostrum. In addition, I really liked this pump because it was easy to use, quiet (so it didn’t wake baby), easy to clean and it packed up small for on-the-go pumping.
At this point my breasts were swollen and sore. Ben was used to the action of breastfeeding (thanks to the tube feeding), but unfortunately couldn’t get any milk out so I was swollen and engorged. I hired a Lactation Consultant to help drain my breasts and teach me how to properly feed Ben. Meanwhile, I continued pumping to keep promoting milk production.
I highly recommend a Lactation Consultant to all new moms, but I realize this isn’t something accessible to everyone. Leaving the house with a newborn can be challenging, and of course this service can be expensive. Last year, Medela introduced a helpful new service via their MyMedela app called 24/7 LC. It offers moms access to unlimited and instant real-time consultations using video chat any time they have a question or issue related to breastfeeding.Sweet letter my husband wrote for me (on behalf of Ben) while I was struggling in the early days.
Tip: Something I learned from my Lactation Consultant was that breastfeeding lying down is much easier on your entire body. This was a game changer for me!
Here’s a very helpful Youtube video I used to learn.
How will I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
Feel confident that you are giving your baby enough milk. But to be sure they are getting enough milk, track their weight with a scale.
After several weeks, Ben was thriving on breast milk. I was now going through everything first-time moms experience; Sleep deprivation, the pain and agony of breastfeeding, cracked and bloody nipples. Ben was such a big baby, he was feeding often, and for long periods at a time. It began every hour, and eventually his feedings started to spread out. A product that changed my life while I was breastfeeding was the Medela Tendercare Lanolin Nipple Cream.
Tip: The Medela Tendercare Lanolin Nipple Cream has many uses. You can also use this on chapped lips, irritated noses, eczema, diaper rash and on scrapes/bruises. It’s an inexpensive multi-purpose cream with a very long shelf life!
And then I got Mastitis…
I had several blocked ducts, and unfortunately when blocked ducts do not properly drain they cause Mastitis, an inflammation of the breast tissue causing severe pain, swelling and redness around the nipples. I’d go as far as to say it was almost as painful as childbirth for me.
I got Mastitis three times. By the third time, I knew it was coming because the night before I got a fever and nausea. I found a natural remedy for my blocked ducts and Mastitis that I’ll get deeper into in a future post. For those experiencing Mastitis right now I suggest keeping baby on the boob as much as possible, performing breast massages, and taking warm baths (or applying a warm, wet compress) to help drain your breasts and prevent future clogging.
When my ducts were blocked, Ben would get frustrated because the blockage prevented milk from coming out. I rented the Medela Symphony, a hospital-grade pump, which helped get as much milk out as possible and alleviate the infection.
As time passed, things got easier and easier. Like with any new experience came many learning curves, but I loved this bonding time with my son. Knowing how close breastfeeding was bringing me to Ben made the experience worth it. I loved our mommy-baby bonding time!
My saving grace…
I should really dedicate this post to my mom and husband as they both helped tremendously during this extremely stressful time. Ben’s daddy stepped up and did most of the cooking, and my mom was there to help with cleaning our place. It literally took a team. Thanks Mom and Patrick!Milk DRUNK Benjamin!
TIP: Don’t be scared to ask for help. This time in a woman’s life is SO incredibly challenging. While I was trying to figure out breastfeeding, I could barely do ANYTHING but worry about feeding Ben. Strength and persistence helped me overcome the early days of my new full-time job – Motherhood – and the other reason I had the energy for this was because I had help around the house.
I’d love to hear from you! Please share your favorite breast-feeding tools and tricks in the comment section.
I’m Elle! A Toronto-based Holistic Nutritionist. I’m a multi-passionate woman, but nutrition and understanding how the body works is really my passion. Through my own personal journey, I have trained my body to heal itself using strategic, natural tools and techniques. Now I’m ready to help others!
As a new Mom, I understand that wellbeing is a journey. I hope my expertise will inspire other parents to choose nutrient-rich foods and the right products to create a happy, healthy and sustainable home. Click Here to Continue Reading